Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hillary's call to "conversation"

Lately, if one visits many of the high traffic Democratic/progressive blogs, one can't help but be greeted by Hillary Clinton's face, with words along the lines of "Be part of the conversation from the start." Oh, that's rich. In *so* many ways.

She's using that conversation meme pretty consistently. Now, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, Howard Dean said something about a "Great American Conversation" didn't he?

But, Hillary, what on earth do you mean, "from the start"? We've been *having* a conversation for several years now, and we've done a lot more than talk. We *knew* with every fiber of our beings that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a *bad* idea. And we did everything we could to make our voices heard. But very few people have access to the kind of megaphone that would allow us to *really* be heard, so we were thrilled to find people like Howard Dean who were willing to carry *our* message to a larger audience. Want to know why some of us get so upset when people attack Howard Dean? Because he's often speaking for *us*--he's saying what *we* would say, if we had access to that kind of megaphone. So, when you diss Howard, you *are* dissing us. Please keep that in mind, and try not to act too surprised when we don't want to jump on your bandwagon after you've attacked our messenger.

Another reaction I have is that this whole "conversation" meme must be something that Hillary and her advisers decided would "sell" to bloggers. Sort of the way she came up with this:

In her statement, she also called for “bold but practical changes” in national policy, a four-word formulation that her advisers said was carefully chosen, given that she has sought to portray herself as both a pragmatist and someone who thinks big. Some Democrats dismiss the latter image, finding her too cautious. Yet her pledge of boldness reflects her well-known desire to disprove the notion that she is hesitant or calculating.
So, I *do* have my eyes open here, Hillary. I don't believe you want to have a conversation. I believe that you're using those words because you think they are effective marketing tools.

And besides, how *can* we have anything resembling a real "conversation" when it is to take place on your turf, on your terms? I would *love* to have a real conversation, where we talk about who we are as America, at our best, and how to find our way back there--or at least get closer to that place. It would be wonderful to talk about another way of relating to other nations, rather than just accepting the "Bush doctrine" as status quo. But from you, today, I heard this:

Clinton said her view is that the nation is engaged in a deadly fight against terrorism, a battle that she contends Bush has botched.

"I do think we are engaged in a war against heartless, ruthless enemies," she said. "If they could come after us again tomorrow they would do so."
So, even though he "botched" things, you can't resist using the fear tactic that has been (apparently) so successful for Bush. And that's another thing that bugs me, by the way. For all the hoopla about you potentially being the first woman elected president, you are way too closely aligned with the patriarchy for my liking. And, for me at least, mindset and worldview are more important than whether a candidate has a matching set of X chromosomes or an X and a Y.

NOW Hillary wants a conversation?
Bumper sticker by jc

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(Belated) Happy Birthday, Keith Olbermann!

I just found out via Crooks and Liars that yesterday was Keith Olbermann's birthday. Happy birthday, Keith! Thank you for speaking truth to power and showing the rest of the mainstream media how it's done.

More about Keith Olbermann at missreporter's Kos diary.

Also, you can find the remarks Mayor Rocky Anderson gave at the anti-war rally in DC here. See also Photo Journal of the Peace March by RenaRF and Diary of a Protest (w/pictures) by Tracy Joan.

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Saturday Thread

Another lazy title, but I wanted to get a new thread up, and I'm already too busy mulititasking to pull together anything with a coherent theme. I've been watching some of the rally in D.C. and commenting over at Firedoglake, and also working on some stuff at Cafe Press. And somewhere in there I took a break to get lunch together for the kids, and prod Son to do the homework he hasn't started yet.

In case anyone missed it, here's the post from yesterday about the switch to the new version of Blogger. In a nutshell, it wasn't my idear. It just sorta happened.

Oscar's 'toons are here.

At Crooks and Liars: I Heart Molly Ivins. Here's the updated Kos diary about Molly's hospitalization, and here's the candle page for Molly Ivins.

Via MSNBC: Will Rove Testify?

Good post at Firedoglake called "A Tale of Two Speeches"--it actually covers a fair amount of ground, but starts out with a comparison between Bush's SOTU speech and Webb's response.

jc has some new designs, inspired by some "crushie type interest in Russ Feingold" at BFA.

Kimmy checked in here, and right after her comment, Karen shared the news about the progress of Gravatar updates. I'd forgotten we were waiting for those. Anyway, they say they'll be back up in early February.

Light a candle for Kimmy here and for Thankful's brother here.

By the way, I checked March of the Penguins out of the library, and I finally watched it yesterday. It’s not easy to make myself do thar with a movie when no one wants to watch with me. In fact, most movies I check out end up being returned, unwatched, 5 days later.

Anyway, I was determined not to let that happen yet again, so I did watch MOTP, a bit at a time, over the course of the day. Two thoughts: 1. It was really stunningly beautiful visually and 2. It really, really sucks to be a penguin.

Mind you, those babies are freakin' adorable.

(More pictures at 75 degrees south.)

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Night Links

Not much to say at the moment, so I'm just going to post a few links, mm-kay?

Send Molly Ivins your prayers (she's in the hospital). Candle page for Molly here.

Back in the saddle--Jane Hamsher is back blogging at Firedoglake.

I'm Off to Protest the War by BooMan

From Americablog: Pelosi and Murtha are in Iraq

From Helping Lara Logan(updated 1/26)--it's the same story that I posted about last night in The Iraq report CBS won't put on the air, by the way.

The next few are from Crooks and Liars
Feingold to Chair Hearing On Congress’s Power To End A War

Stephen Gets the Last Wørd on O’Reilly Showdown

Jon Stewart Tries to Relate to Cheney

Bush: “I’m the decision-maker” Sigh. I guess that sounds slightly more literate than "the decider", but he's still not showing much "bipartisanship", is he?

Ted Kennedy lashes out against the GOP’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage

This post at Digby is something else--have I mentioned that Bush is a jerk lately? I think he may even be *king* of the jerks.

And finally one from Firedoglake, about how Tim Russert was seen by the White House as the go-to guy for positive coverage: If It’s Sunday, It’s Meet The Veep’s Agenda? By: Christy Hardin Smith

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New version of Blogger

Last time we discussed this, I said I wasn't going to switch over to the new version of Blogger. And I meant it. Since that time, upon logging in, I have noticed that the "suggestion" that I switch to the new version seemed to be dominating more of the page. Today, it was freaking huge, and I carefully avoided the "switch to the new version" link, but instead clicked the link that I *thought* would log me in to the old version of Blogger. And, disturbingly, I got a message saying, "The following blogs will be converted..." I quickly hit the "back" button on my browser, and tried to log out and log back in. I got the same thing.

Then I opened up Internet Explorer, to see if there was any way I could log in the normal way from there. Nope. Some process had been started to convert all my blogs to the new version of Blogger.

So, now it's converted. I didn't want to do that. I did not need this today. So, front page posters, please don't be mad at me. This is how I feel about being switched over, even though I was trying not to, and all that it implies.

We'll have to figure out what all of this means, and help switch people over to the new version of Blogger if they'd still like to post on the front page.

I'll have to try to help with that later, though. Right now I have a headache.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Iraq report CBS won't put on the air

Via Crooks and Liars

Logan asks for help in getting attention to what she calls “a story that is largely being ignored even though this is takingplace every single [sic] day in Baghdad, two blocks from where our office is located.”

The segment in question–”Battle for Haifa Street”–is a piece of first-rate journalism but one that only appears on the CBS News website–and has never been broadcast. It is a gritty, realistic look at life on the very mean streets of Baghdad, and includes interviews with civilians who complain that the US military presence is only making their lives worse and the situation more deadly. “They told us they would bring democracy, they promised life would be better than it was under Saddam,” one told Logan.“But they brought us nothing but death and killing. They brought mass destruction to Baghdad.”
I think it would have to *really* suck to put your life on the line by going to Iraq to report what's really going on, and then have your network lack the steelies to actually put that report on the air.

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Hillary and the netroots

Here's a piece of Booman's front page commentary on Hillary and the Netroots.

As for Hillary, we know what her people think of us. Paul Begala said of Howard Dean that he didn't need 'some asshole from Vermont to tell him what to do'. Well...the netroots, taken as a whole, wanted Howard Dean to chair the DNC. The netroots wanted Howard Dean to have a major role in telling Democrats how to run the party. So, if Begala feels that way about Dean then he basically thinks we are all just 'assholes from Vermont'. And that is how I view Hillary's campaign. They are implacable foes. They are to be opposed.

She has some time to change perceptions, but not too much time. And I haven't seen anything yet to soften my stance. Thanks for the money Ms. Clinton, but I ain't biting.
That last "thanks for the money" part refers to Hillary's recent blogad buy. If you go to any of the big Democratic/progressive blogs, you've probably seen her ads about "joining the conversation". Oh, and there's this: Submit the very first guest post on our blog at We want to give you the first word …So be part of the conversation.

Heh. We want you to be part of the conversation--on our terms. Send in your stuff, and we get to pick.

Oh, and Hillary, I may be a nobody from central Ohio, but I agree wholeheartedly with Booman's assessment that you are a foe to be opposed. And I plan to do that with every fiber of my being, barring some miraculous happening like the clouds parting and an angelic voice declaring that you are the Chosen One. Or some sudden epiphany on your part, in which you declare "I was wrong" about the Iraq war. That seems about as likely as the heavenly voice, though.

And one more thing, here at Howard-Empowered People, we take even *less* kindly to people who bash Dean. And the more you do it, the harder we'll fight you. So we recommend that you refrain from that, and encourage your people to do likewise.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, grassroots, netroots, 2008

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Well, this sucks...

This morning I was awakened by Demetrius telling me that Son in Ohio's bus had not come, so he was going to need to drive him to school and then come back for Daughter. I wondered if classes were cancelled for some reason--an inservice day or something like that. No, we would have gotten a reminder sent home with one of the kids.

Now, on Sunday night, you may recall that I was wondering if there could be a cancellation, and was watching the local news web sites for updates. I had one of those bookmarked on my Sidekick, so I looked up that page and saw a whole long list of school closings, including Columbus City Schools. The listing noted that schools were closed due to a "shortage of buses and drivers".

I'm glad I caught that before Demetrius drove all the way to school for nothing, and, while it threw a bit of a monkey wrench into some of our plans for the day, we just went about our business the best we could. Then, about half an hour ago, Daughter got a call from one of her friends. They talked about nothing for a good long while, as 11 year olds are known to do, and then I heard my daughter in the hallway saying to her friend, "Do you think I should tell my mom?" Well, that sort of thing is *bound* to get my attention, and once Daughter realized I'd heard her, she went ahead and told me, "She says there might be no school tomorrow either."

Yikes. And it was only at *that* point that it occurred to me to look for a news story about this "bus and driver shortage"beyond the school closing notice I'd seen at 8 this morning. And I found this...

Columbus Public Schools officials learned about 7 p.m. yesterday that a private bus company was grounding its drivers today, but they didn't decide until about 5:45 this morning to close schools.

Superintendent Gene Harris said officials worked throughout the night to make up for the 48 routes that First Student typically handles. But they could not find solutions for 30 routes.

First Student grounded its drivers after discovering that it hadn't completed criminal-background checks on them, as is required by state law and its contract with Columbus Public Schools.

Here's another story: Officials: Bus Shortage Resulted From Cocaine Discovery

And the most recent update at the Columbus Dispatch
They are rushing to be able to reopen Friday, but as of midafternoon a decision hadn't been made, spokesman Michael Straughter said.

The attorney general's office has cleared 56 of the 61 drivers used by Columbus Public to resume driving schoolchildren, Dann said. The other five require further study, he said.
School districts throughout Ohio that use First Student, including Cincinnati and Lorain, will receive warnings from the attorney general's office that the checks haven't been performed.

Ohio adminstrative code requires school bus drivers to have undergone a background check. So does Columbus Public's contract with First Student.

The company never sent in the forms for a background check on the Columbus drivers, Dann said.

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More from the Libby Trial

I haven't found time to read the updates on a consistent basis, but just a reminder that the people at Firedoglake are doing a tremendous service by liveblogging this trial from the courtroom. From the comments:

Joe Wilson says:
January 25th, 2007 at 7:02 am

We are simply amazed at the quality of the blogging on the trial and the cogent analyses offered in the evening after a long, grinding day. You are all doing a tremendous public service and we are most appreciative. Appreciative as interested parties in the trial of course, but mostly appreciative as Americans that our fellow citizens are rallying to ensure that a vibrant and free press invites attention to the importance of the rule of law in our system of governance. Thank you for all you are doing. Stay healthy, eat vitamin C (as somebody suggested on the blog), and get your rest. Joe

If anyone would like to help with the expenses these citizen reporters are incurring over the course of this trial, there is a donation button in the right sidebar at Firedoglake. You can also send a donation via "snail mail" to

The Fire Dog Lake Company
8033 Sunset Blvd. #966
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Also, there's a great comment from LeslieK, currently in New Zealand here--be sure to check it out.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Candidate web sites

I decided to gather the links of the Democratic candidates who have announced so far, and post the links here for anyone who is interested. Let me know if I'm missing any.

Hillary Clinton
Chris Dodd
John Edwards
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Bill Richardson
Tom Vilsack

I'm, uh, not quite "whelmed" with the list. So, who am I forgetting?

And now for some cute baby duckies to end this post on a positive note.

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Hillary says to no public financing

I just watched the video of Howard Dean on Hardball. He did a great job, of course, but Chris Matthews started in on the "inevitability of Hillary" stuff, mentioning, in particular, Hillary's decision to forgo public financing in both the primary and the general election. Howard noted that he was the first candidate to do that in a primary, but also remided people that he took a vote among his grassroots supporters before doing that. Matthews persisted with the issue for a while, also saying that if California moves its primary to February 5, that will guarantee a well financed candidate like Hillary Clinton the nomination.

Matthews and other commentators also went on and on in the post-SOTU commentary about Hillary and her boatloads of money. So when I woke up this morning, I really felt like I had to respond.

Just sayin'.

By the way, Charlie just checked in here. He's going to trial today on the election fraud case from back in April.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Douglas Adams speech excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the Douglas Adams video I linked to in this post. Since I can't get a screen capture from the video, I'm including this image of Douglas Adams with his daughter, Polly.

The conclusion of Adams' talk on endangered species:

There is a kind of terrible irony that at the point that we are best able to understand and appreciate and value the richness of life around us, we are destroying it at a higher rate than it's ever been destroyed before. And we are losing species after species after species, day after day, just because we're burning the stuff down for firewood. And this is a kind of terrible indictment of our understanding.

But, you see, we make another mistake, because we think somehow, this is all right in some fundamental kind of way, because we think that this is all sort of "meant to happen".

Now let me explain how we get into that kind of mindset, because it's exactly the kind of mindset that the kakapo gets trapped in. Because, what has been a very successful strategy for the kakapo over generation after generation for thousands and thousands of years, suddenly is the wrong strategy. And he has no means of knowing, because he is just doing what has been successful up till then. And we have always been, because we're toolmakers, because we take from our environment the stuff that we need to do what we want to do and it's always been very successful for us--

I'll tell you what's happened. It's as if we've sort of put the "pause" button on our own process of evolution, because we have put a buffer around us, which consists of medicine and education and buildings, and all these kinds of things that protect us from the normal environmental pressures. And, it's our ability to make tools that enables us to do this.

Now, generally speaking, what drives speciation, is that a small group of animals gets separated out from the main body by population pressure, some geographical upheaval or whatever. So imagine, a small bunch suddenly finds itself stranded ina slightly colder environment. Then you know, over a small number of generations that those genes that favor a thicker coat will come to the fore and you come back a few generations later, and the animal's got a thicker coat.

Man, because we are able to make tools, we arrive in a new environment where it's much colder, and we don't have to wait for that process. Because we see an animal that's already got a thicker coat and we say we'll have it off him. (Laughter.)

And so we've kind of taken control of our environment, and that's all very well, but we need to sort of be able to rise above that process. To rise above that vision and see a higher vision--and understand the effect we're actually having.

Now imagine, if you will, an early man, and let's see how this mindset comes about. He's standing, surveying his world at the end of the day. And he looks at it and things, "This is a very wonderful world that I find myself in. This is pretty good. I mean, look, here I am, behind me is the mountains, and the mountains are great. Because there are caves in the mountains where I can shelter, either from the weather or from bears that occasionally come and try to attack me. And I can shelter there, so that's great. And in front of me is the forest, and the forest is full of nuts and berries and trees, and they feed me, and they're *delicious* and they sort of keep me going. And here's a stream going through which has got fish in it, and the water's delicious, and everything's *fantastic*.

And there's my cousin Ug. And Ug has caught a mammoth! Yay!! (Clapping). Mammoths are terrific! There's nothing greater than a mammoth, because you can wrap yourself in fur from the mammoth, you can eat the meat of the mammoth, and you can use the bones of the mammoth, to catch other mammoths!

Now this world is a fantastically good world for him. And, part of how we come to take command of our world , to take command of our environment, to make these tools that we need, is that we ask ourselves questions all the time. So this man starts to ask himself questions. "This world" he asks himself, "so, who made it?" Now, of course he thinks that, because *he* makes things himself, so he's looking for someone who will have *made* this world. "So, who would have made this world?" he thinks. "Well, it must be something a little bit like me. Obviously *much much* bigger, and (glancing up) necessarily invisible, but he would have made it. Now, *why* did he make it?"

Now, we always ask ourselves "why" because we look for intention around us, because *we* do things with intention. We boil an egg in order to eat it. So, we look at the rocks and we look at the trees, and we wonder what intention is here, even though it doesn't have intention. So we think, what did this person who made this world intend it for. And this is the point where you think, "Well, it fits *me* very well. You know, the caves and the forests, and the stream, and the mammoths. He must have made it *for me*!"

I mean, there's no other conclusion you can come to. And it's rather like a puddle waking up one morning--I know they don't normally do this, but allow me, I'm a science fiction writer (laughter). A puddle wakes up one morning and thinks "Well, this is a very interesting world I find myself in. It fits me very neatly. In fact, it fits me *so* neatly, I mean, *really* precise, isn't it? (Laughter) It *must* have been made to have me in it!" And the sun rises, and he's continuing to narrate the story about this hole being made to have him in it. The sun rises, and gradually the puddle is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking, and by the time the puddle ceases to exist, it's still thinking, it's still trapped in this idea, that the hole was there *for* it. And if we think that the world is here *for us*, we will continue to destroy it in the way in which we have been destroying it, because we think we can do no harm.

There's an awful lot of speculation one way or another at the moment, about whether there's life on other planets or not. Carl Sagan, as you know, was very keen on the idea that there *must* be. The sheer numbers dictate, because there are billions and billions and billions, as he famously did *not* say, in fact, of worlds out there, so the chance must be that there's other intelligent life out there. There are other voices at the moment saying that if you look at the circumstances here on earth, they are *so* extraordinarily specific that the chances of there being something like this out there, are actually pretty remote.

Now, in a way it doesn't matter. Because think of this--Carl Sagan, I think, himself, said this. There are two possibilities: either there is life out there on other planets, or there is no life out there on other planets. They are both *utterly* extraordinary ideas! But, there is a strong possibility that there isn't anything out there remotely like this. And we are behaving as if this planet, this *extraordinary*, utterly, utterly extraordinary little ball of life, is something we can just screw about with any way we like.

And maybe we can't. Maybe we *should* be looking after it just a little bit better. *Not* for the world's sake--we talk rather grandly about "saving the world". We don't have to save the world--the world's fine! The world has been through five mass extinctions. Sixty-five million years ago when, as it seems, a comet hit the earth at the same that there were vast volcanic eruptions in India, which saw off the dinosaurs, and something like 90% of the animals on the planet at the time. And another 150 million years earlier than that, another giant, giant, giant extinction. The world has been through it many times before, and what tends to happen, what happens invariably after each mass extinction, is that there's a huge amount of space available, for new forms of life suddenly to emerge and flourish into. Just as the extinction of the dinosaurs made way for us. Without that extinction, we would not be here.

So, the world is fine. We don't have to save the world--the world is big enough to look after itself! What *we* have to be concerned about, is whether or not the world we live in, will be capable of sustaining *us* in it. *That's* what we need to think about. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. (Applause).

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State of the Union, continued

Thanks to jc in the comments for providing a link to the text of the speech for anyone who would like to "read along". I think I'll pass--just finished transcribing a very thoughtful section of that Douglas Adams video I posted about earlier. It would be a neck-breaker of a segue to go straight from that to what the "Decider" has to say. (I have that as a post in draft, by the way.)

You can find the text of the Democratic response by Senator Jim Webb here.

Via Kos
SOTU games
More SOTU Games & SOTU Open Thread

For those of you who are watching, please share your thoughts about how the mood differs from previous SOTUs by Bush.

Oh, and for anyone who missed the news, the *real* president's documantary, An Inconvenient Truth, was nominated for an Academy Award.

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State of the Union

I got this link to a State of the Union parody from Kos. He adds...

And incidentally, James Adonian, who plays Bush in this clip, needs to get his Patriot Facts web show picked up by Comedy Central.
Links to some Patriot Facts episodes are provided in the same Kos entry.

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Howard Dean on TV

Via "Watch It!: Governor Dean on TV"

Catch Governor Dean on TV tonight. He'll be doing three interviews, back to back. The line-up:
MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews at 5:00 pm
CNN's Situation Room at 5:15 pm
Bloomberg's Money and Politics 5:30 pm
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Parrots, the Universe, and Everything

W00t! I don't know how many people other than Cat and myself will be excited about this, but I just discovered a blog entitled Another Chance to See, and via that blog, found a link to a streaming video of Douglas Adams giving a lecture on "Parrots, the Universe, and Everything".

An 87 minute streaming video posted by UCTV--University of California Television entitled "Parrots, The Universe and Everything". It's a complete Douglas Adams lecture by the great man himself, all about "Last Chance To See". Enjoy!!!

Here's a picture of the kakapo, which is the parrot Adams discusses in the video.

He talks about a number of other endangered species he'd investigated for the book as well, though.

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Talk Radio

When I checked my email Sunday morning, Stanley Campbell from Rockford Peace and Justice asked if I was busy Monday and if I wanted to join him on the radio. His group and the group I am organizer for, Democracy for America group (Rockford Progressive Meetup) have been working together on peace projects from rallies to documentary showings.

Now you have to meet Stanley. He wears several hats in the community from his day job of director of the Rockford Urban Ministries to running the local fair trade store. Stanley is a vet of the Viet Nam war and he has traveled recently to Iran on peace visits. Stanley's grey beard and casual dress might cause you to think "grizzly" but his wide smile and gentle manner overshadows all else. He often wears his veterans for peace hat perched on his head. All the media in Rockford know Stanley and he is the first one they contact if they want a story.

Enter me, Holly, who considers media a necessary evil. A TV camera causes my eyes to bug and limits my vocabulary to ahhhs, So, the suggestion by Stanley to join him in talking on the radio sent terror through me. He kept saying, "Now this is going to be fun." I kept thinking, OK I know it is good to grow my comfort zone. What I do for the progressive movement.

I spent the rest of Sunday worrying while my husband dug into research. How much do we spend on the Iraq war? $8 billion a month. Saddam was Sunni. Iran is Shite. What are the main points of the Iraq study group? I spent the evening sending out one hundred fifty emails to friends and fellow progressives telling them to call in to ask softball questions. My daughter sends me the advice to not answer the question just say what you want them to hear,

Stan and I made a date to eat at the local Thai restaurant to bone up on talking points and for him to give me advice like, have fun, that’s what the radio people want anyway. Have fun with the Iraq war?? Hmmm. I ordered my food, not spicy. I doubted digestion was going to take place anyway.

WNTA radio is on the south side of town hidden behind an apartment complex and next to a golf course. You could miss it but the big antenna betrays its function. I bring a water bottle and a stack of notes on a clipboard. Stan brings in an empty sheet of paper and a pen. Radio host, Mark Meyhew, rises from behind the microphone to shake my hand as Stanley introduces me. Mark is casually dressed in a black t-shirt. Ya gotta love radio, I didn't even need to bother with the makeup. Mark is a big guy, with a limber mouth. Stanley told me Mark is a moderate but asks great questions and knows how to work with phone calls.

They explained that you talk into the side of the propped up microphone and to put on the head phones to hear the callers. I was looking for the big red light saying "on air" but unfortunately you just need to know when to not talk. I only blew it once by talking too soon when I asked Stanley to take my picture in front of the microphone so I could post it on the blog.

First we talk about ourselves, which of course I love to do. I talked briefly how our group meets monthly and we are issue oriented but know the best way to make true change is to become involved in politics. Stanley talked about the organizational meeting tonight to plan for the DC peace rally and our up coming meeting with our US rep.

The phone lines lit up. There were 8 lines and they were all blinking. The producer told Mark he would hold off the "regular" critical caller until right before break and the drunk would be just kept on hold so he couldn't keep calling back. OK, I knew I could handle this.

Roy starts out critical of Bush. The second caller gets lost in cell land and Ned goes off about the budget. Yes!!! I could use Bob's research and quote $8 billion a month. Ed. from our progressive group, talks about the Iraq Study Group. I know the stuff, I am energized and thank goodness most of the callers were of like mind.

When CJ called he used the Limbaugh statistic that more Americans have been killed by illegal aliens than in the Iraq War (jeeshhh). My eyes rolled but I responded, we need secure boarders and this unjustified war has taken our eye off the ball and deterred money that could be more appropriately be spent for real security. Stanley smiled and gave me a big "thumbs up" in support.

It is almost time for break so they balance the callers with "Mr. Critical" he rants on about all the people Saddam has murdered and how they moved the WMD over to Somalia. No time to respond, off to commercials.

Mark runs through a commercial speaking fast and furious. Now here is a profession I could get paid for my fast talk. He ends with the weather report, "Cloudy and cool". I look out the window and stifle a laugh; there is bright sunlight.

Mark closes the conversation with asking what can be done in Iraq? I answer that it is a mess and there is no good solution but Bush's current escalation is not the answer. Stanley ends with information about the meeting tonight and I tell interested people to check out our web site at

I leave exhilarated but exhausted and feel like a truck just ran over me. I guess that's what growing your comfort zone feels like.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Kimmy Checks In

She left some comments in the previous thread. In a nutshell, it was pre-labor and not first stage labor the other night, but she's on bedrest and understandably checking back in slipped her mind. More medical details in the previous thread. Not going to frontpage all of that, but, bottom line is, I can *completely* understand Kimmy not checking in with us earlier. Read more here.

Light a candle for Kimmy and family, a smooth, comfortable labor and delivery, and a healthy birth here.

By the way, Kimmy, since you *did* go all penitent and with the "don't beat me" stuff in the comments below, I decided I could take the liberty of posting your gorgeous picture here. It's a much milder form of "penance", I think. ;)

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Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing

I know some readers here also post at My Left Wing, so I thought I should front page this as well. I had no idea Maryscott O'Connor was in the hospital until I saw this diary entitled I visited Maryscott yesterday. Yikes--apparently she's been in the hospital for over a week. Shockwave writes:

I will print your comments and give them to her
We talked about MLW, I told her the site was holding up and will be there when she gets out. We talked about Hillary, the image copyright controversy at DKos to which she said; that she wanted nothing to change at MLW and in true Maryscott spirit she told me she rather go to court than change the current rules.

I trust that soon the doctors will find a cure for what ails Maryscott. Her living conditions were fine and the hospital staff seemed competent and engaged.

Maryscott is my friend from our early days at DKos and I have grown closer to her, Adam and Terry since I moved to their neighborhood last year.

Please keep her in your thoughts and if we all do our part she will soon be back in action and MLW will pull through.
Anyway, I set up a new candle page for Maryscott O'Connor, and diaried it here.

Also, Maura has been having health problems and is in need of help. That had slipped my mind (sorry) until listener mentioned her in the comments of the last thread. Don't mean to just tack this onto the Maryscott entry, but I honestly don't know if I would remember to do a separate post later. If you go to this diary at My Left Nutmeg, there is a link to a PayPal button for anyone who would like to help Maura with her considerable medical expenses. I know some people can't do PayPal, but, unfortunately, I don't know the answer as far as alternate plans for getting donations to Maura. If anyone finds out, please let me know, and I'll add that info to this post.

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Monday Morning

It's stopped snowing here in Columbus, and school wasn't cancelled. (It's hard to know when it might be--all I know for sure is that way less accumulation is needed to close the schools here than was the case when we lived in Chicago.) Stevie, who is often my blogging companion, moved to his spot on the heating vent this morning. I guess that means that, in his cat mind, it's officially cold. I know all you New England people will say this isn't *really* cold, but it's not *my* opinion, it's the cat's. And he lives a pretty sheltered existence.

So, what's going on in your part of the world today?

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

R.I.P. John Kerry, hamster

Looking to see if there were any reports of Kerry getting ready to announce for 2008 (everybody's doing it these days), I found this...

'It's a sad day in our household. John Kerry is dead.'

"John Kerry was named such when, at 4 years old, my youngest was saddened to learn that the person her parents voted for hadn't won the election. Naming her hamster 'John Kerry' was her way of making up for that.

"It was always funny to hear the girls playing with him in the other room: 'Ooh! John Kerry pooped! There he goes; catch him. He's going under the dresser!' or 'Ouch! John Kerry bit me!' They never shortened his name to 'Johnny' or 'John'; he was always referred to in the formal sense.

"I'm not sure what the real John Kerry would think of this, but he should consider it an honor.

"We will miss John Kerry — at least until we bring Obama and Hillary home from the pet store."

Run, John Kerry! Run! (Ha! I kill me!)

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World Religion Day

I would not have known that today was World Religion Day, had not attended a forum on interfaith marriages at our local public library. The forum was our local interfaith groups' way of marking the day. I *did* know that Bush has cynically pronounced today "National Sanctity of Life Day". (Eye roll.) But I like this better.

Observed on the Third Sunday in January each year, in all Continents, from major cities to the most rural of localities, World Religion Day events help foster interfaith understanding and harmony. It provides the opportunity to seek a unified approach to the spiritual challenges that confront humanity, and recognizes that the Earth is but one country and mankind its citizenry.
At the two hour forum, three couples told their stories, and there was some small group discussion too. The man who leads most of these things is a member of the Sikh religion, and worked on a book about Religion in Ohio. At the beginning of the program, he cited some statistics from the book. One that stood out to me was that almost *half* of Ohioans don't list themselves (whereever one might list such things) as belonging to ay particular faith tradition. That would probably come as a surprise to a lot of people, who think "Christian Right Red State" when it comes to Ohio.

At the end in a question and answer segment, one attendee asked the couples if they thought America was becoming more or less tolerant with regard to religion. One of the panelists, who is a Hindu man married to a Catholic woman, and is a doctor, said recently he had grown a beard, because one of his kids wanted him to, and he was on vacation at the time, so he did. He was surprised at the number of people--friends, family members, and his *patients* for crying out loud, said things like, "You look like a terrorist with that beard." He noted that these were people he respected, and he was pretty stunned to hear them say that, as if it was, well, an okay thing to say.

He said he challenged some of them, gently, and looked up pictures of the 9/11 hijackers to see see that none (or maybe almost none) of them had beards. Which seemed, to me, like a decent response. It's not good to just "let those things slide", but it takes patience and creativity to challenge those everyday examples of bias in a non-confrontational (or at least non-heated) way.

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Reflections on John Edwards...

Note from Renee--Alan wrote this in the comments, and it's a more thoughtful assessment than I've been able to come up with. Frontpaging it for discussion since the announcements seem to be coming fast and furious these days.

I've been looking at some stuff about John Edwards today, and wondering if I could vote for him. I see some issues. In no particular order:

He didn't, and still doesn't, have any administrative experience (e.g., as a governor). That's not a deciding factor by itself, but it's not insignificant.

He has said that he was wrong to vote for the war on Iraq; well and good. But I (as well as many others) knew it was a very bad idea at the time. Why would I want someone as president who is less intelligent, or less knowledgeable, than I am?

I cannot forget his ad hominem attack on Howard Dean at the Rock The Vote debate in Boston: "The last thing we need in the South is people like you..." There is no rational possibility that it was an impromptu outbust; it was planned and seriously considered. It is the sort of thing lawyers with weak cases are trained to do, have done since Classical times (that's why the technique has a Latin name), and although it can be effective in an adversarial proceeding, I feel it bespeaks a significant defect of character.

I will also admit to a tendency to stereotype and prejudice. Senator Edwards speaks English with such a pronounced accent I find it difficult to understand him. And that accent has no good associations for me, but several bad ones. Still, I can recognize my prejudice, and I don't think it would overpower rational decision.

Senator Edwards says he regrets following the overcautious advice of the "professionals" and will do it differently this time--stand for something. Well, we'll see.

I'm not saying I absolutely wouldn't vote for Edwards. But he hasn't made his case with me, and he has quite a sales job. There's still about a year for a dark horse to materialize or for someone to seize the country's imagination who has not done so yet. Bill Richardson is rather shopworn, but might do.

P.S. from, I haven't heard any updates about Kimmy. Hopefully if there are any, someone can post them in the comments. Light a candle for her here, if you like.

Also, totally unrelated, but interesting--and I'm not likely to be able to post again today--there's an article in the Faith and Values section of the Columbus Dispatch about Buddhism this week.

More thoughts on Edward from jc (from the comments)

I have many of the same items Alan listed on my Edwards evaluation list. A couple more items from my Edwards list.

He didn't just vote for the war in Iraq, he made fear-mongering speeches and helped sell the war to the public. He co-sponsored LIEberman's bill.

He drafted parts of the Patriot Act and voted for it (of course most did vote for it) and criticized it mainly because it would have been good if only the Attorney General could have been trusted not to abuse it. (I believe a good law is one that can stand up no matter who is in power.)

And on the gay issues, he was against gay marriage AND civil unions, although he did throw in a little pandering language on gay people in general.

Edwards makes a lot of pretty speeches, and is now saying a lot of the right things. I just don't know if this version of Edwards will stick around when the political winds shift again.

I'm holding out for a better candidate.
jc Homepage 01.21.07 - 12:45 pm

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Music for a Sunday Morning

Ever since my teen years I've enjoyed the music of Sri Chinmoy. So as I return to guest blogging here I thought some of his music would sooth you on this beautiful day. Enjoy.


Note from Renee: New posts from puddle here.

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